Peter Moody’s belief that lightly-raced mare Kulgrinda is a genuine Group One sprinter will be put to the test in the Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley.
Moody’s racing manager Jeff O’Connor said Kulgrinda’s moment had arrived and expectations were that under lights on Friday night she would be competitive against champion three-year-old Sepoy and multiple Group One-winning mare More Joyous.
“It is a very tough Group One but we don’t think we are far away from them,” O’Connor said.
“This is her first go at it (Group One) so if she doesn’t win this time hopefully we see a run from her that says she is going to get there.”
The winner of four of seven starts, Moody declared Kulgrinda Group One class after she won the Listed Printhouse Graphics Stakes (1000m) at the Valley last month.
Last start she finished fourth in the Group Three McEwen Stakes (1000m) at the track but the stable has played down the defeat as she was held up at a crucial stage of the race and was only beaten 1-1/2 lengths by Buffering.
O’Connor said her McEwen effort had merit and with a clear run it may have been a better result.
“Any horse that day who got held up for just a stride got pretty much put out of business,” O’Connor said.
“The first three got away from her when she lost her momentum.”
The Manikato is Kulgrinda’s first try at 1200 metres.
Luke Nolen has described Kulgrinda as a “superstar” but has never compared her with stablemate Black Caviar who is unbeaten in 13 starts.
With Black Caviar kicking off her spring campaign in next week’s Group Two Schillaci Stakes at Caulfield, options are limited for Kulgrinda to prove herself at the top level.
The daughter of Exceed And Excel has been a late bloomer and because of her immaturity didn’t get the chance to frank Moody’s opinion that she was his best two-year-old two years ago.
Moonee Valley was rated a dead (5) on Thursday and, with showers forecast, is unlikely to improve significantly despite strong winds.
Kulgrinda, who has raced on dead ground six times for four wins, is at $15 with TAB Sportsbet.
Sepoy ($2.10) has won seven of his eight starts and while his only defeat was a second to Smart Missile on a dead track, six of his wins were on similar ground.
More Joyous ($2.90) is just as brilliant on soft ground, unbeaten in four starts on slow tracks and winning three of four on dead.